Concern over Kooth and The Big Ambition pushed in schools and coming between children and their parents.
Schools have been encouraging children from the age of 10 to sign up to a free online mental health service called Kooth. The website’s popularity really started to take off during the Covid lockdowns, and they now claim to be the market leader in online mental health support for young people. The idea of such a website does at first seem helpful, where children can talk about issues with qualified counsellors (via online messenger) about their problems without having a timely wait. Children usually find themselves placed on waiting lists for such services, and access to child psychiatrists can on average take months. However, this service has recently raised alarm bells for parents for several reasons. Firstly, to use the resource, young people open a confidential account where they are encouraged never to share their login details with anyone, even their parents. In fact, nothing is shared with parents, and parents are kept entirely in the dark with regard to what their child has discussed, as well as any advice given to them by the adult counsellors, who may not share the same beliefs and values as their parents, and have a completely different perspective on what is best for their children.
This leads to the second concern. Issues often discussed on the website relate to sexuality and gender identity. There are 170 posts categorised as LGBTQIA+ which include contributions by site members and mental health workers. Professionals have posted articles promoting “gender fluidity” as fact and touting the “many different sexualities,” including “demisexual”, “Inactsexual”, “Bellusexual”, “Ageosexual”, “Achillian”, “Diamoric” and “Pansexual”. Articles also catalogue different genders, the list being too long to include in this article, and many posts include information on gender transitioning, explaining when the best time is for someone to choose to “transition socially and medically”. In the resources section, young people are signposted to organisations such as Brook, NHS Choices, Stonewall, Terence Higgins Trust, LGBT Switchboard and Gendered Intelligence (a pro-trans charity) — a clear indication of the kind of advice and counselling the young person would also be receiving via the Kooth representatives.
An article (19 July 2023) in the Scottish Daily Express warned parents about the ‘Kooth’ app teaching children the “neo language of gender” and “exposing vulnerable youngsters to controversial transgender ideas – including breast binding”. Transgender Trend have examined in great detail the history and business model behind Kooth, which has been the recipient of considerable public funding and been adopted by numerous NHS Trusts and local authorities. Kooth’s annual report for 2022 states that:
“In the UK, over 60% of all 10–25-year-olds have free access to Kooth, funded by the NHS or their local authority. According to NHS England data for 2021/22, Kooth has now become the largest single access provider for mental health support for under 18s, a testament to the trust and reach that we have achieved in our partnership with the NHS”.
In examining what kind of mental health support Kooth provides, Transgender Trend share the experience of women’s rights campaigner, Kellie-Jay Keen, during a single online chat. She states:
“so I joined. I’m 13, I’m a girl, I think I’m non-binary and I want to bind my breasts and I don’t want my parents to know. So I went into the adult help me chat thing, so some of the people who are paid counsellors, or volunteers, I’m not really sure, but they are the adults looking after. So there was a long sort of ‘Oh I’m sorry to hear you are sad,’ straight away introduced me to a website about binding. Not one fricking word on that website said ‘Don’t,’ not one”.
The National Female Genital Mutilation Centre shares the medical risks associated with Breast Flattening, which include abscesses, cysts, itching, tissue damage, infection, discharge of milk, dissymmetry of the breasts, severe fever, and even the complete disappearance of one or both breasts.
Schools are also asking children to complete a survey called The Big Ambition, which has been issued by Dame Rachel De Souza, Children’s Commissioner for England. De Souza claims the survey to be “a much-needed opportunity for the children of England to tell political decision makers what is important to them ahead of the General Election”.
The survey can be completed by children from the age of 6, or parents on behalf of children. After completing questions on age, race, gender and school, children are asked to complete 19 questions where answers range from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”. Although this survey is coming from schools, only 2 of the 19 questions ask children about school, and one of the questions concerning school is innately biased through being loaded with the positive adjective “great” — “You have great teachers who support you”. It doesn’t though suggest their family is “great”. Alarmingly, there are more questions concerning family life than school life. Children are then asked to write some further comments on what they think the Government could do to make their lives better. A full list of the questions can be found at the end of this article.
The survey raises numerous further concerns: Who’s to say the surveys are actually completed by children? What ideas could other adults and schools encourage our children to put forward? Why have those of us who are of the legal age to vote been excluded from giving opinions of what is best for our children? The problem is that the “views of children” have, for instance, been used by the Children’s Commissioner and sex ed campaigners to promote the agenda of compulsory RSE in schools, claiming that is what children need and want. Children apparently always want “more” and “better” RSE to keep them “safe” and “healthy”.
Both Kooth and The Big Ambition represent initiatives supported by the State, which are designed to circumvent parents to promote adult ideological agendas to children. The 2-minute promotional video on the Big Addition website, for instance, features two children calling for the Government to do more to tackle “climate change” and another calling for “cheaper childcare”. ParentPower recommends caution with mental health websites and surveys given out by schools, whether coming from official sources or not, and suggest that you research sites and questionnaires before allowing your children access to such material.
The Big Ambition’s questions (requiring “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree” answers) are as follows:
People who run the country listen to your views.
You feel empowered to change issues that you care about.
You are treated fairly.
You live with people who make you feel loved and cared for.
You have somewhere to call home.
Your family get to spend quality time together.
Your family has everything they need to support you.
You enjoy school or college.
You have great teachers who support you.
You have a healthy diet.
You feel happy with the way you look.
You have someone supportive to talk to about how you feel.
You can access good healthcare when you need it.
Jobs and Skills
You know about money and life skills.
You know about apprenticeships, university options and career paths.
You have the same opportunities as other children and young people.
You have fun activities to do near where you live.
You feel safe and protected in your local area.
You feel safe when you go online.
There is also a free-text opportunity for children to give their “Views on what the Government should do to make children’s lives better”.